How Virtual Reality (VR) Transforms Defense Training

One of the many practical uses of virtual reality (VR) technologies is defense training for military trainees and officers. They become better...

Written by Niel Patel · 6 min read >
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One of the many practical uses of virtual reality (VR) technologies is defense training for military trainees and officers. They become better at using equipment and managing modes of transport, gaining practical experience in possible combat situations and medical training, among other things.

One of the advantages of VR training is that users are always safe because everything they experience happens in a virtual world. 

VR can gain essential data, such as how trainees deal with high-stress situations and life-threatening environments or solve challenges specific to real-life operations in the safety of the virtual training room.

How exactly is virtual reality used in defense training, what applications does it have in the military, and what benefits does it have? Let’s find out together!

What Is Virtual Reality (VR)?

Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that simulates a realistic environment through computer-generated images and sounds, transposing the user into a virtual environment where they can perform different actions safely.

VR has become a valuable tool in various fields, from education to entertainment and even military training. 

The military and defense sectors have started incorporating VR into their training programs to improve the skills and preparedness of their personnel.

VR Military Training Types

One of the most famous uses of VR in the defense sector is military training. Soldiers use VR to access various scenarios with changing conditions to learn and improve themselves. 

VR is used for the following army training experiences:

Boot camp and combat training – Create scenarios happening in virtual reality, making it more accessible to troops. Scenarios include the advance of enemy combatants, strategy and logistics development. Military success depends on specific training, which is where VR sessions come in. They allow users to access them regardless of location and specialty.

Equipment training – VR is used to train specialists with expensive, scarce, and fragile equipment. Training equipment becomes much safer, easier, and more accessible because more trainees can use it at the same time. 

VR can be used for vehicle and aircraft simulations, allowing soldiers to practice driving or flying in a safe and controlled environment.

Marksmanship training – With VR, soldiers can practice their shooting skills in a simulated environment replicating real-life shooting scenarios. They can use pistols, rifles, and cannons by learning their parts (large rifle primers, barrels, actions, triggers, sticks, etc.) and how to assemble the weapons and shoot with them quickly.

Medical training – Military medics are essential parts of a field team. They must be ready to perform in any circumstance. They can explore emergency medicine and field hospital situations to prepare for real-life situations.

CBRN training – VR can simulate hazardous materials and dangerous environments, allowing soldiers to practice responding to CBRN incidents without exposing them to actual danger.

Electronic warfare training – Soldiers simulate interacting with electronic systems and environments, learning about threats (jamming, spoofing, cyberattacks, signal interception), and practicing and deploying countermeasures (encryption, frequency hopping, signal manipulation).

Equipment and assembly – Specialists can safely assemble and test virtual models of equipment used in real life. Cars, planes, and boats are essential on the field, and knowing how to maintain or repair them is crucial.

Cultural training and language learning – Soldiers use VR to simulate interacting with people from different cultures, practice language skills, and learn about different customs and traditions. 

VR improves communication and understanding in diverse environments, ultimately contributing to more successful missions.

VR Defense Training Advantages

VR offers several advantages over traditional defense training methods. One of the most significant is that it allows military personnel to experience realistic scenarios without exposure to the risks and dangers of real-life training exercises.

Realistic scenarios – VR is especially useful for training in hazardous environments such as chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) scenarios or combat situations. 

Virtual Reality in Military and Defence Industry

With VR, soldiers can train for these scenarios in a safe and controlled environment, which reduces the risk of injury or death.

Cost-effectiveness – Traditional training methods often involve expensive equipment, travel, and other logistical expenses. 

VR eliminates the need for physical equipment and can be deployed in a central location, reducing costs and increasing accessibility. 

Additionally, VR training can be repeated multiple times without the need for resetting or rebuilding the training environment, further reducing costs.

Unrestricted training access – VR allows trainees to undergo training whenever and wherever they want. They don’t necessarily have to be in a specific location for copious amounts of time or adhere to strict timelines. 

Training scenarios can be tailored to an individual’s skill level, experience, and needs. It allows for more efficient and practical training, as soldiers can focus on areas where they need improvement rather than spending time on areas they already excel in.

Natural actions and movements – Soldiers are not restricted by their VR headsets. They have an enjoyable experience and can better prepare for real-life fighting conditions. 

They can interact with virtual environments and objects, practicing critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving skills. They can also engage in simulated combat with virtual enemies, improving their combat skills and situational awareness.

Adaptation – Exposure to changing lighting conditions allows trainees to show how they react and adapt to their situation. VR technology can simulate various scenarios and conditions that may be difficult or impossible to replicate in the real world. 

For example, VR can simulate extreme weather conditions, enemy attacks, and complex operational environments that are too dangerous or impractical to recreate for traditional training. 

Soldiers gain experience in a broader range of scenarios, improving their skills and readiness for any situation they may face. Virtual reality simulations allow for limitless situations, depending on the creativity of developers.

Virtual Simulations with VR

Military and defense specialists can get simulation experience without spending as much money and time organizing real-life drills. The most popular VR simulations are the following:

  • Flight – it’s one of the most popular types of VR simulation, allowing specialists to experience and train in air military or defense situations.
  • Naval ships – the naval forces teach specialists to navigate ships and asses sea-conflict situations.
  • Ground vehicles – VR simulations are a cost-effective way to train the army safely and effectively using ground vehicles, including tanks.
  • Virtual battlefields – although it can be challenging to replicate real-life battlefield conflicts, VR allows soldiers to prepare for possible conflict situations.
  • PTSD recovery – many veterans must work on their mental health to recover from the stress of their experience on the battlefield and retake control of their life after military service. 

VR technology can help them relieve stress and endure the trauma of surviving a situation of pressure and control.

VR Technology Types Used for Defense Training

Several types of VR technologies can be used for defense training, each with its specific advantages.


One of the most common is head-mounted displays (HMDs). You wear them on your head, and they provide a fully immersive experience. HMDs use motion controllers to allow soldiers to interact with virtual objects and environments.

Virtual Reality Rooms

Another type of VR technology used for defense training is virtual reality rooms. These rooms are designed to create a large-scale, fully immersive virtual environment that soldiers can interact with. 

Virtual reality rooms are specific to team training exercises and can simulate complex scenarios like urban combat.

Portable VR Systems

VR portable systems can be used in the field. These systems are lightweight and can be transported to different locations easily. They are used for on-the-job training and can provide soldiers with immediate feedback and assessment.

Examples of VR Use in Defense Training Scenarios

One notable example of using VR in defense training is the US Army’s Synthetic Training Environment (STE) initiative

The STE is a virtual training platform incorporating advanced technologies such as VR, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing to provide soldiers with realistic training experiences. 

The STE is designed to simulate a wide range of scenarios, including combat, urban operations, and CBRN incidents.

The STE also provides soldiers with after-action reviews (AARs) that allow them to assess their performance and identify areas for improvement. The AARs use advanced analytics and machine learning to grant soldiers personalized feedback and recommendations for further training.

Another example of using VR in defense training is the UK’s Virtual Reality in Land Training (VRLT) program. The VRLT program uses VR technology to prepare soldiers with immersive training experiences that simulate a wide range of scenarios, including urban combat, convoy operations, and CBRN incidents. 

Virtual Reality Defense Training Challenges

While the use of VR in defense training offers many advantages, there are also some potential drawbacks that must be considered.

The most evident challenge is the need for specialized equipment and software. VR systems can be expensive, and maintaining and updating the technology can also be costly.

The potential for motion sickness and other health issues is another possibility worth considering. VR technology can cause dizziness, nausea, and eye strain, mainly when used for extended periods. It can impact the effectiveness of training and the well-being of soldiers.

There is also a risk that soldiers may become overly reliant on VR technology and neglect traditional training methods. 

VR training should be used as a supplement to conventional training rather than a replacement. After all, soldiers must be prepared first and foremost for real-life situations.

Finally, there are concerns about the potential for VR technology to desensitize soldiers to violence and combat

While VR technology provides soldiers with realistic training experiences, it is vital to ensure that they understand the gravity and seriousness of real-life combat situations.


VR technology is playing a big part in the defense industry. It offers many advantages in defense training simulations, including enhanced realism, cost-effectiveness, and personalized and adaptive training

Using VR to simulate various scenarios and environments allows soldiers to gain experience and improve their skills without exposing them to real-life risks and dangers.

However, some potential drawbacks and challenges must be considered, such as the need for specialized equipment and software, health issues, and the risk of desensitization to violence and combat. 

Overall, the use of VR in defense training has the potential to improve the skills and readiness of military personnel and contribute to more successful missions.

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